Enriqueta’s is a small Cuban restaurant located in Miami’s midtown. Established in 1965, it has been under its current owner, Jose Luis Pla, since 2000. Jose Luis is the creator of all the dishes on the menu and they all draw their inspiration from the cooking styles of Matanza, Cuba.
The place is small — they have an “L” shaped coffee window outside that fits about 8 people; half facing into the kitchen and the other half facing the dining area. One thing you’ll notice about the coffee window is that the hot box typically filled with pastries, croquettas and empanadas is filled with nothing but “chicharones,” or fried pork belly, instead – my kind of breakfast.
Inside they have twelve tables and two counter tops with a total of 13 stools where people can sit to enjoy their meals. The atmosphere is hectic, chaotic and at the same time incredibly comforting. Orders being yelled into the kitchen as diners seem to be incessantly entering through the door, the steady hum of conversations filling the room, the sounds of the kitchen as countless entrees are being prepared all add to Enriqueta’s charm.
They have a relatively small kitchen, especially for the amount of production. Most of the food prepared is either on the grill or in a sandwich press, which they have four of lined up ready for action.
Most of their sandwiches are prepared on special Cuban bread that they have, which seems to be their secret weapon – they didn’t want to talk too much about it. The bread is fantastic. Super crisp and flaky on the outside and soft yet very chewy on the inside, with small uniform bubbles creating a wonderful density. I was able to try various menu items and the wait staff was very kind and attentive.
First I tried their “pan con bistec” or steak sandwich, which was delicious. The steak was seasoned lightly, nice and acidic and sliced very very thin, which I can appreciate because it eliminates the seemingly endless chewing that’s become almost expected from a steak sandwich.
It was topped with sliced tomatoes, “papitas” (shoestring potatoes), mozzarella cheese, and sautéed onions. The cheese is of a very high quality and melts beautifully, turning more creamy than stringy.
The Cuban sandwich was one of the best I’ve had, and honestly, the bread makes it. It’s piled high with ham and roast pork, pickles, mozzarella cheese, mayo and mustard. It’s not as cumbersome as most Cuban sandwiches I’ve had, but still has all the necessary components and will definitely fill you up.
One of their specialty sandwiches, actually called “sandwich Enriqueta’s” takes a more breakfast sandwich approach. An omelet with finely chopped onion running through it, crispy bacon, sweet and salty thick cut ham, mozzarella cheese, and sliced pork in their special Cuban bread.
The construction of the sandwich is a bit inconsistent, which actually works to its advantage because all of its components get a chance to shine individually as well as collectively. Some of the bites are bacon heavy, some you just get omelet; it keeps things interesting.
Most, if not all, of their proteins are cooked over a flame grill and come with a variety of sides. The chicken steak comes with caramelized onions, tostones (green plantains smashed flat and fried) and a salad of sliced tomatoes, lettuce and shredded cabbage. The chicken steak is a butterflied chicken breast with plenty of citrus and a good amount of flavor from slight charring on the grill. The onions are cooked until translucent, but still maintain that sharp onion bite, which really adds to the dish.
The tostones were super crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside and weren’t greasy in the least. The salad was slightly wilted from the heat of the chicken, which I like, and was served with a mojo vinaigrette on the side that was great and matched the rest of the dish very well.
Sort of the oddball in the group, the sea trout fillet has more of an Asian influence than anything. It’s cooked on the grill as well, but prepared with a special sauce made in-house. Much like all great things in the kitchen, this sauce is a secret. The only confirmed ingredient was soy sauce; other than that everything was very hush hush.
The sauce was sweet and savory and rich, but applied very conservatively not to overpower the moist, flaky, perfectly cooked fish fillet. The fish was covered with strips of pimentos, cilantro and peas – an odd combination that works beautifully. It is served with the typical Cuban sides: black beans, white rice, French fries and a tomato and lettuce salad. Visually the dish is very appealing, served on a large square plate with many vibrant colors — very easy on the eyes.
Now, what’s a meal without dessert? Out came the flan and the crema catalana. The flan was served ice cold with a generous helping of caramel sauce. It was sweet, but not as rich as you would expect. The texture was velvet. It was very soft and delicate, yet firm and dense. Very creamy and turned liquid as soon as you put it in your mouth. This flan was not playing around. Good flavors of caramel, vanilla, citrus rind; very balanced, and more importantly, very delicious.
Not to be left behind, the crema catalana, a version of the crème brulee, was also very good. Sweet creamy custard covered by a hard layer of the burnt sugar on top that makes that loud cracking noise as you bust through it with the back of your spoon. The crema catalana is made on premise and has really rich, interesting notes of caramel, cinnamon and rum running through it. When I say rum, I don’t mean subtle nuances or undertones of rum on the back end that sort of whisper a familiar flavor as you taste this; I mean it packs a punch. Obviously, you’re not going to be getting drunk off of this, but the rum plays a huge role in giving this dessert a sort of liveliness that really makes it stand out.
Overall, Enriqueta’s was a great experience and a place I will be revisiting soon. If you’re looking for good quality traditional Cuban food, I highly recommend visiting this place, it’s definitely worth it.
Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop
186 NE 29th St, Miami, FL 33137-4425
Take a look at Enriqueta’s Menu :